Express Yourself

Be who you are and say how you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.
--Dr. Seuss

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

New Ideas Are Flowing...Javier and Juanita

I thought that I would have a chill day at work. I thought that I would take some time to relax after a very stressful last two days. The chill, however, never happens on Wednesdays. On Wednesdays, the students have two specials periods of 45 minutes. They attend a health fitness and art class. We  get that time to plan and have data conferences. We planned what we would do with our Math groups next week. That meant that I couldn't get the letters to send out to parents for the parent meetings, make copies for Math or Reading, or get to take some time, create, and think. I need the morning time to be my time to relax, unwind, and allow the creative juices to flow. I wondered how the rest of my day would go. Usually if my morning is off, then I am off. Not good.

When my students came back from specials, I got back into the pre-testing flow. This flow I really enjoy. It brought me back to why I love teaching. It put me in an incredibly wonderful mood. I reviewed with them the analysis pyramid created by Alana Morris.
We went over the parts and how it relates directly to the reader and writer within each one of us. I was amazed at their ability to expound on each one so effortlessly. I loved the discussion that we had around craft elements, structure, tone and mood, and language. This time we were able to go even deeper with the theme and thesis as well.  Then we read for 15 minutes. Everyone was enjoying their time to read. When time was up, they complained that there wasn't enough time. They then found a partner to discuss what they read including the entry point of genre.

During my lunch time, I was thinking how I could incorporate something like I did with Edna

and Eduardo. I drew two Texas Education Agency scorers for the students

Meet Javier. He is the Texas Education Agency's test writer.
to meet. I told them that these scorers were wanting to read quality writing. These people would be their scorers in Austin.  They referred to Edna and Eduardo often. I had to take them down for a day due to testing. When I hid them in a closet, they complained that the room wasn't the same without Edna and Eduardo. Because of this, I brought them back out. Yesterday, my whole room became a morgue. I had to cover everything in my room with white or manila colored paper. Edna and Eduardo were closeted again. Today, they told me that they miss seeing their Edna and Eduardo. Because of this, I decided to create two more Texas Education Agency people for Reading. I created and introduced Javier and Juanita to my students. (Edna and Eduardo are closeted for good.)
Meet Juanita. She is another test writer.
These two characters, Juanita and Javier, would be the Texas Education Agency's reading test makers. I told them that Javier and Juanita are the test creators and they want the students to understand genre and to show textual evidence. I also mentioned that we were going to crack the code on what Javier and Juanita were looking for in the test. It wasn't important what answer they liked, but rather what transaction Javier and Juanita were making. Now we are going to crack the code in test format and understand what the test writer wants the student readers to think.  They loved it. (They asked about the Math people. I am thinking of calling them Donald and Diane.) I like where we are headed. I hope that there is enough time. My students are wild readers and writers. Now, I have to transition them onto the genre of the test.

What I thought would be a wild Wednesday turned out to be quite productive and creative. I returned to my chill pattern, worked on some Reading and Math, and lived through it. Wednesdays are long with very little down time. I took my lunch time to refuel and good things came out of it--Javier and Juanita! The kids loved it, and that is ultimately what matters. It is fun creating these characters.

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